Liebestod The smell of blood does not leave my eyes Juan Belmonte - HDT III
By bringing together revolutionary Andalusian torero Juan Belmonte and the music of Richard Wagner, Angélica Liddell gives voice to the origins of her theatre, to what she calls "a history of my roots, of my depths". 'Liebestod' is the third part of the series Histoire(s) du Théâtre at NTGent - a performative investigation of the oldest art form.
More than an art, bullfighting was for Juan Belmonte a spiritual exercise, elevating emotions into an infinite space, into eternity. This ceaseless research for tragic beauty, an attempt to communicate directly with the sacred, is present as much in the work of the bullfighter as on Angélica Liddell’s stage. “I’m always looking for the sublime moment, for transfiguration, for overflowing enthusiasm, for radiance and light, this lyrical transport which takes place when one loves”, Angélica Liddell says.
Nevertheless, Liebestod is not an epic of bullfighting; the show becomes an offering,a rite, a search: “it’s the work of a woman in love, a mortal woman. It’s also an immolation”. But it is also a criticism of the present time, that is increasingly losing touch with spirituality and transcendence in favour of a culture that focuses on reconciliation and consensus.
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'There is nothing in contemporary theater quite like an Angélica Liddell monologue'Laura Cappelle - The New York Times
Juan Belmonte (1892-1962), the "divine stutterer" from Seville, is considered to be the inventor of the spiritual bullfight. His slightly deformed legs obliged him to develop a new fighting technique: upright and almost motionless, he fought dangerously close to the bull’s body and became the greatest matador of his time, in legendary competition with his rival Joselito, who died in the bullring. Belmonte’s assertion that "The way you fight the bull is the way you are" sums up his philosophy. His suicide speaks of the "being no longer able to live" captured by the philosopher Emil Cioran at the height of his own despair. Sick with lung cancer, Belmonte took his life with a pistol in 1962.
Liebestod, the title of the climax of Richard Wagner’s 1865 opera Tristan und Isolde, literally means “love death”. The composer wrote the music for his own poetic rewriting of the medieval Celtic legend. The word 'Liebestod' refers to the theme of the eroticism of death or of “love till death”, with the idea that the consummation of the couple’s love takes place in death, or even after it.
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Angélica Liddell brings both references together in her new work: Belmonte’s tireless search for tragic beauty and holiness and Wagner’s tragic consummation of love in death. Liddell conjures up the figures of the bull and the bullfighter and is reflected in both: she is simultaneously the lover and the beloved, confronting her darkest abysses, her furious passion and longing for death, insulting her audience and contemporary culture which has lost its connection to myth and transcendence. Liddell herself and her texts, in which she screams, stutters and whispers at love and death, are centre stage. With visually striking references to a Spanish bullring and the rituals of the Catholic church, the production is structured like a rite of incantation.
'Angélica Lidell no longer makes theater, she is theater'Les Echos - Philippe Chevilley
- 11 Oct 21 — De Standaard - "Ik toon het monster in de mens" - (portret Angélica nav Liebestod ****)
- 16 Sep 21 — Volkskrant (NL) - "Bloed, zaad, pis en tranen: de beeldtaal van Angélica Liddell is uitbundig en excessief" - (portret nav Liebestod)
- 14 Jul 21 — AFP - "Angélica Lidell: elektroshock op theaterfestival Avignon" - (interview)
- 12 Jul 21 — Deutschland Funk Kultur (DUI) - "Kunst bestaat om de orde te verstoren" - (recensie 'Liebestod')
- 12 Jul 21 — Les Echos (FR) - "Festival D'Avignon : Angélica Liddell, l'amour à mort"
- 12 Jul 21 — El Pais (SP) - "Angélica Lidells stierengevecht brengt Avignon in vervoering" - (recensie 'Liebestod')
- 9 Jul 21 — Libération (FR) - "A Avignon, la transe de travers d’Angélica Liddell" - (over 'Liebestod)
- 9 Jul 21 — Scèneweb (FR) - "En un mot: bouleversant" - (recensie 'Liebestod')
- 6 Jul 21 — The New York Times (ENG) - "For This Spanish Provocateur, Each Performance Is About Survival" - (portret Angélica Lidell)